RALEIGH, N.C. – House Democrats delivered a formal letter of protest to Speaker Tim Moore’s office Tuesday night objecting to what they say was a lack of parliamentary process around the veto of Senate Bill 2, the magistrates recusal law.
Forty Democrat House members signed the letter accusing the Speaker of overlooking due process and claiming that delays in the veto override vote violated the state Constitution and House rules.
“The idea was to get this into the public record. I have no doubt that this issue will end up in court and I believe that the plaintiffs will prevail,” said Rep. Susan Hamilton (D-WIlmington).
Both chambers of the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the legislation that allows magistrates to recuse themselves from performing all marriage ceremonies for religious reasons.
Susi Hamilton (D-Wilmington)
“The override vote on SB 2 ‘MAGISTRATES RECUSAL FOR CIVIL CEREMONIES’ is substantially and constitutionally injurious to the public and hereby dissent, protest, and note our grave concerns and objections for entry onto the journal for consideration by the people of our state,” the letter read.
The protesting House members, led by Minority Leader Larry Hall, say the law discriminates against same-sex couples and sets the stage for them to be denied a marriage ceremony based on their sexuality. They say that the bill’s passage and the delays in the votes to override violated the state Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and House rules.
“It’s very simple, they are allowed to refuse to do something illegal, but they are not allowed to refuse to serve the public,” said Hamilton.
Supporters of the measure point out that the law only allows magistrates to recuse themselves from all marriages, not just same-sex ones. Bill sponsors say the law was intended to give the state, as an employer, the ability to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious convictions, in accordance with federal civil rights laws.
The legislation stemmed from a lawsuit filed by two Moore County magistrates who argued that being required to perform same-sex marriages violated their religious beliefs.